Southern Hospitality is Alive and Well in 2011

27 Feb

This past week my husband and I went on a brief vacation/work trip to Florida. It was our first trip to Florida. My goal for our trip was not to come home weighing more than when I left Minnesota and his was not to get sunburned the first day we arrived and spoil the rest of his trip.  Mission accomplished on both fronts.

Before we left for Florida I let a few of my blogging friends know that we would be in their area last week.  As quick as I let the cat out of the bag I had three emails from bloggers suggesting times and places we could get together if it worked in our schedule.  I thought how fun it would be to meet some of the people I had blogged with over the past year.

Last Monday we spent a delightful day with blogger Nancy &  BFF from When we arrived at their home she had a cooler packed with homemade sweet tea and some snacks for our outing. We spent the an hour checking out the local sites and seeing things I’ve never seen before like the Gumbo Limbo tree.  If I could plant one of them in my Minnesota backyard with hopes of it surviving our cold winters it would be on the top of my list.    

Then we headed off to Anna Maria Island where we feasted on lunch al fresco at Rotten Ralph’s restaurant. It was wonderful eating outdoors with the breezes blowing. The waitress warned us that the winds might blow our chips off our plates.  That never happened. We ate with the sun shining and the conversations flowing. After lunch we headed to the other end of the island and out on one of the piers and watched the pelicans taking off and landing. Entertained by live music on the deck, we watched and listened to our surroundings. It felt wonderful to absorb the warm sunshine.

How many times did I just mention sunshine? I think I have a theme going on…

After visiting the island we headed back to Nancy’s for more conversation on their deck overlooking a waterway that surrounds their home. We observed the local birds coming and going, Spoonbills, Pelicans and many others that I have since forgotten the names.  The one thing I will never forget is the hospitality shown to complete strangers from Minnesota by our new Florida friends and how they made time in their schedules to show us the paradise that surrounds them.

Monday afternoon after we arrived back at our hotel my husband received a call from another car dealer who has a home in Inverness who heard that we were in Florida and he and his wife invited us to their home in Inverness and out to lunch the next day. When we are home in Minnesota there is very little time outside of work for socializing with other car dealers so this was the first time we had been out to eat with this couple. We work within an hour of each other back in Minnesota. The guys had a great time discussing the changes in the used car business and I had fun getting to know his wife and more about their family.

Before we left Minnesota we had dinner plans for Wednesday evening made with two other couples that I have blogged with over the past year.  Joe of and Tyler of made arrangements for us to meet for dinner in Sanford, FL.  Joe’s wife and Tyler’s husband joined us for dinner. Joe and Tyler picked out Two Blondes and a Shrimp restaurant in Historic Sanford, FL as the place we would meet for dinner. We met around the dinner table and the conversation flowed for hours but ended way too soon. We talked of writing, flying, social networks, taxes, history, friends and family. The food was excellent and the conversation even better.  As I sat listening to each tell their stories in person it was if I had known each of them for a longer time.

As I reflect on the busyness of the past few years, I realize the one thing that we’ve missed in our lives is the time that we used to spend visiting with friends,neighbors and family. We have been in the habit of leaving for work in the morning and then retreating into our homes at the end of the day without much interaction with others except at work. We need to work on the art of hospitality and welcome others into our home. We are missing one of the most important riches in this life if we exclude it and miss the friendships that develop over time in face to face conversations.

We’re back home now in cold Minnesota with 15 inches of new snow in the ground but the inside of our home is warm and welcomes visitors who maypass our way. We’d love to share some of our northern hospitality with those daring enough to venture north.


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45 responses to “Southern Hospitality is Alive and Well in 2011

  1. nrhatch

    February 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Wonderful post, Jeanne.

    We had such a blast meeting you and Dean. Wished you lived closer so we could get together regularly. 🙂

    So glad that your first visit to Florida offered the warmth of sunshine and convivial conversation.

    Hope you have an early Spring.

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      An early Spring would definitely be welcome. I had a very hard time changing from my capris and sandals to jeans, shoes and jacket. It would be fun to get together often if we lived closer.

    • nrhatch

      February 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      BTW: The link to Spirit Lights The Way doesn’t work. The correct URL is

      • flyinggma

        February 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm

        I will change the link..Thanks for the heads up. Jeanne

  2. Booksphotographsandartwork

    February 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Sounds like so much fun. Glad to hear you got a chance to thaw out for a little while and how fun to meet a blogger friend for real.

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      As I was driving home behind my husband in a separate car the thought kept entering my mind “I wonder how soon he would notice if I turned my vehicle back south again instead of continuing north?”

      It was fun to meet all the blogger friends in person. When you spend time reading and writing to others you learn a lot about them even before you meet them. I think of blogging a little like modern day pen pals. You spend time formulating your thoughts and sharing them with others and respond to their thoughts. The added plus is that the turn around time for responses is much sooner than waiting for your pen pal’s letter to come in the mail. Sometimes never arriving.

  3. Joe Clark

    February 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    We are most happy to hear you returned safely. You know pilots, we were watching the weather and it didn’t look so good for your return trip. Wished you had called while in St. Augustine–you could have met another couple you would have liked. My friend, Bob, I have known since fifth grade and his wife, Beth, is a hoot. Take care, stay warm, and I hope the snow goes away soon.

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      I would have loved to meet your friend Bob and wife Beth. We only had a couple of hours on our way through. We had to meet a guy up near Cedar Rapids, IA on our way home to pick up some race car tires. Dean was pretty excited to meet him and hoped for a tour of his shop. He wasn’t disappointed. We spent several hours there on our way home.

      We have wetted our appetites for Florida and the winter weather. I know that we will be back there for sure. Dean is already talking about this trip being too short. We would love to spend more time in St. Augustine on our next trip.

      Our trip home was uneventful. We had wet roads part of the way home but no snow or rain while we were traveling the entire way home. We managed to miss it all.

  4. Linda Anderson

    February 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Glad you made it home and it sounds like you had a delightful time.

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      We had a wonderful time. I thought of you and Glen as we were driving through eastern Iowa yesterday.

  5. Paula Tohline Calhoun

    February 27, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    How fun! So glad you had the chance to get together with Nancy and BFF! Hubs and I are going to be doing the same thing later this Spring or early Summer. Nancy might start to regret having offered!! But I consider your visit with her as the trial run for our visit! She’ll be even more expert by the time we get there!

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      You will have a wonderful time Paula. They are expert tour guides already. There were so many suggestions that it was hard to choose what to do. It was fun to walk and talk as we saw the sights. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ve enjoyed reading many of your posts and participating in your blog photography contest for your blog anniversary. Very fun!

    • nrhatch

      February 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      @Paula ~ We’ll keep practicing. It’s a good thing you weren’t with us at Rotten Ralph’s . . . your contacts would have blown overboard.

      @Jeanne ~ Thanks for your kind words. BFF and I enjoyed every minute of our time together. 😉

      • Paula Tohline Calhoun

        February 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm

        @Nancy – LOL! Guess what?! Contacts went in at 6 a.m. and are still in and working well. I’ll need to have the prescription tweaked once more, but other than that, I think I’ve found what I’m going to use! At last!

  6. writerwoman61

    February 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Glad you guys had a safe trip and got to meet some of your blogging friends, Jeanne! I can relate to what you say about not inviting people into your home as much as you’d like…we pretty much only see family on any regular basis!


    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      I don’t know when it happened but we used to do more entertaining with friends. I think it happened when our kids were in so many different activities at school. That became our social outings because there just wasn’t any time for anything else. We are on to a new phase in life with grown children. It’s easier to do things if we don’t work as much.

      • writerwoman61

        February 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        Just found out you’re FP’d…congratulations!


  7. Carol Ann Hoel

    February 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    You ate at Rotten Ralph’s! Ha! My husband and I have eaten there many times. We used to vacation on Anna Maria Island and Rotten Ralph was one of our favorite restaurants. Blessings to you, Jeanne…

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      We loved eating there. Such a fun location. The couple we were with gave us three choices and Rotten Ralph’s was the only one of the three that they hadn’t eaten at yet so we went there so it would be new to all. So much fun eating by the water. I think it would be wonderful to vacation on Anna Maria Island. I’m glad that you have fond memories of your time together with your husband. It was a truly beautiful location. Blessings to you, Carol

    • nrhatch

      February 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Carol Ann ~ I hope you make it back to Florida, AMI and Rotten Ralph’s sometime soon.

  8. Thomas Stazyk

    February 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Glad you had a fun trip and got to meet up with interesting people. Hope you guys can get down here someday!

    • flyinggma

      February 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      I would love to make a trip to New Zealand and visit your farm Thomas. The thought of running into a Wetapunga might keep me away for a little while but not for long. Hope things are improving for any friends or family in Christchurch since the earthquake.

      • Thomas Stazyk

        February 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

        The wetas are under control so no worries there! Christchurch is a sad story with more problems surfacing every day. Fortunately all of our friends/family are fine, but there are lots of sad stories and lots of hardship.

      • flyinggma

        February 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm

        As we watch the news each day our hearts and prayers go out to those who are suffering as a result of the earthquake. As you say each day brings more stories of loss and hardship.

  9. JoDee Luna

    February 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    This sounds like so much fun. I hope you look me up if you come to California.

  10. flyinggma

    February 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I will let you know if we are out your way. I’d love to spend some time with a technology expert and fellow teacher! I love your work!

  11. sunshineinlondon

    February 28, 2011 at 6:52 am

    It sounds like you had a wonderful week, Jeanne, and soaked in some lovely sunshine and friendship. Just what a holiday should be.
    Sunshine xx

  12. flyinggma

    February 28, 2011 at 8:09 am

    It was truly a wonderful week. It leaves me appreciative for the week it was and longing for more to come.

    • sunshineinlondon

      February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      What a star you are, Jeanne! Congratulations on being FP – well deserved and about time! Enjoy the ride…
      Sunshine xx

      • flyinggma

        February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm

        Thanks Sunshine. I almost missed it with just coming back from vacation. Blessings, Jeanne

  13. B.C. Young

    February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

    How wonderful to read about the kindness of the Floridians.

    • flyinggma

      February 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for your comment. There are great people everywhere to meet even in our own backyards if we are willing to take the steps necessary. It might mean stepping out of our comfort zone. But I think it’s worth the risk.

  14. TheEverydayMuser

    February 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I have tons and tons of online friends, and I would love to meet each and every one of them in real life. The problem is, I’m in college now, and it’s hard for me to make time to make arrangements for all of these things. I would jump at an opportunity to meet one of my online friends, because they’re just great. Sometimes when my real friends aren’t around to comfort me, online friends are. And that just proves that they really are friends.
    I’m glad you got to meet some of your online friends, and it sounds like you truly had fun with them. Makes me think even more about how it would be if I met one of MY online friends. 🙂
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser

    • flyinggma

      February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks Ashley for your comments. It was really fun to get to know the bloggers in person. I think a person can be a true friend whether they are online or in person. The benefit to reading what people have written before you meet them is you have time to contemplate their thoughts that offer some insight into personality which might not present itself upon an initial meeting.

      I didn’t realize until I read your comment that I had been “Freshly Pressed”. It is a first for me after over a year of blogging. Thanks for the heads up…I knew that the traffic counts were up but didn’t realize it was from being Freshly Pressed.

  15. nrhatch

    February 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Yay! FlyingGma’s been Freshly Pressed. Sit back and enjoy flying with WP!

    • flyinggma

      February 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks Nancy! So much fun to see the post on the front page.

  16. pearlsandprose

    February 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    So happy to hear your first trip to Florida went so well! Now you know why so many people up North have places down there. I could easily go every winter.

    And congrats on Freshly Pressed!!

    • flyinggma

      February 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Thank you on the congrats. I could easily head back to Florida in a heartbeat. I don’t feel like I’ve even touched the surface of what Florida has to offer.

  17. hugmamma

    March 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Looks like you’ve got a wonderful family of bloggers.

    Just wanted to agree with you on southern hospitality. My hubby and I live in Washington State where the mountains are magnificent, but having been born in Maui, I’m missing the crystal, clear, blue of the Pacific Ocean and the warmth of the tropical sun, as I get older.

    Having lived in Atlanta for a couple of years, and now with our daughter living in Tennessee, I’ve found that the southerners have the same generosity of spirit that reminds me of the Aloha spirit of my native Hawaii.

    southerners and hawaiians…something in common…hugmamma. 😉

    • flyinggma

      March 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. Someday I will travel to Hawaii. I have heard so many positive things about the people who live there and Hawaii the state. It seems like any amount of time I would spend there wouldn’t be long enough to see everything there is to see. Blessings!

  18. Nicole

    March 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Well, I declare! Bless your heart! (two things my great-grandmother used to say to new people she met…and welcomed back)

    It’s times like this that I am incredibly proud ~ and feel so blessed ~ to be a G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Raised In The South). I’m so glad you had a wonderful experience below the Mason-Dixon line. As a Southern Belle, I love to serve family and friends mounds of fried Southern staples, along with gallons of the sweetest sweet tea around. You can leave your shoes…and your diet…and the backdoor step. Hope y’all come back soon!

    • flyinggma

      March 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. Always fun to see new people and learn about them. I love that I can leave my shoes on the backdoor step. I’m a barefoot girl most of the year but in Minnesota you have to at least wear your shoes in the winter. Once I’m in the door they are off. I hope that we can head south again real soon!

  19. Scott Thomas Photography

    March 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I have done this with flickr contacts but have yet to do so with blogmates (as I call them). I have always found it amazing how easy it is to meet people you have gotten to know this way. Like you’ve been old friends for years and years.

    I see you like to do Close Up Photography. My blog has an assignment this month you might be interested in participating in. Hope you stop in! Who know when you might be traveling to upstate NY someday. 🙂

    • flyinggma

      March 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I’ll have to check out your blog assignment for the month. I love new ideas for photography. Never been to upstate NY but you never know…


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